I normally don’t like to write anything about a book until I finish the book, but I couldn’t wait with this one. First off, this book had the slowest start to anything I have ever read. I would zone out while listening to it on my drive into work. I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly I was paying VERY close attention to what was happening. Currently I am about 60% into this read and I can’t stop. It is fascinating, not just from a historical aspect, but the author goes into painstaking detail about the science involved in each event as well.
Let me start by jumping into the science involved in this book. I have never read a book by Daniel James Brown, although The Boys in The Boat has been on my TBR. I was not expecting to get an in depth science lesson on things like El Nina years or Hypothermia, but I did! I knew of these things (and many other scientific items mentioned), but the detail he goes into as the author really helped me to understand what these people were going through at this time. This is such a welcome and needed addition to the book to really immerse the reader into what these families are enduring.
Another thing about this book that I love (and really the main thing), is that it doesn’t focus in on the Donners themselves. This book follows specifically Sara Graves and her family (part of that Donner party). In all reality, I did not know who Sara was and didn’t even understand that the Donner Party consisted of people that were not Donners. Her story and her family’s stories add to the raw and real story that is the Donner Party. Not to give too much away, but seeing things through and from Sara’s perspective is eye opening and makes the whole situation that much more raw and real.
I will say, if you are someone that doesn’t like talk of blood or “butchering” this is most definitely NOT the book for you! I knew virtually nothing about the Donner Party going into this, other than the fact that some cannibalism took place and a few survivors made it out of the bloody ordeal. I am truly fascinated by this story and the story of many other men and women that made that trek to the West.
Again, I haven’t finished this book yet, but it’s no spoiler how it ends. I would highly recommend it if you haven’t spent much time learning about that westward migration. It is incredibly interesting for that alone and sheds light onto a lot of what actually happened to those people and in this case specifically, the Donner Party.